Everyone loves pumpkins. What's not to love about pumpkins? If there's anyone in our little group today who doesn't love pumpkins, why don't you get out of line right now. This discussion is for pumpkins lovers only, and frankly we don't need your kind hanging on the fringes and heckling the rest of us. There's no reason you should spoil things by bringing up topics like when a mother endearingly calls her child, "my little pumpkin," she's really calling her kid a "fat baby." We don't want to hear that from you. Just go join a "I am Miserable" support group and all be miserable together.
Now, where were we?
The word pumpkin originally came from the Greek word pepon. This was changed by first the French and then the British until finally American Colonists starting using the word "pumpkin". Like many words in use today that came from the Colonies, pumpkin was probably a misspelling of either the French or British version. We may have been fiercely independent, but our schooling left something to be desired.
A pumpkin is of course a squash-like fruit. Conversely, squashes are a pumpkin-like fruit. What's fair is fair. There are however some differences. According to Wikipedia, "pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit." Now I don't know about you, but that description seems to me to have some vague sexual inferences. It wouldn't surprise me that whoever wrote that also dabbles in a little porn.
Although orange is considered the reigning color of pumpkins you can find pumpkins that are green, yellow, red, white, blue and tan. I've never seen a tan pumpkin. I don't know where they even get their tan. When was the last time you saw a pumpkin lying out on the beach? I bet they don't use sun block.
The weight of a pumpkin is a pretty big deal in some circles. Some weigh under a pound, but the big boys really get up there. Howard Dill of Nova Scotia is credited with developing the seeds for giant pumpkins from a single fruit he grew in 1981. Dill's Atlantic Giant seeds created a legion of growers and the current world record holder. From a seed developed by Dill, Chris Stevens grew a pumpkin weighing out at 1.810 lbs. Howard Dill continues to experiment in growing giant fruits and vegetables. His latest work has concentrated on cucumbers. If successful, Howard plans to bottle the cukes and market them under the name Giant Dill Pickles. That's a good one.
Rich in Vitamin A and potassium, pumpkins are considered good for your health. Before modern medicine they were recommended as a cure for freckles and a remedy for snakebite.
If someone calls you a "pumpkin head," it could mean a variety of things. If you are in prison it means that you have been severely beaten and your head has swollen up like a pumpkin. If you grandmother uses it , then it's a term of endearment. Lastly, if you are a fan of the band The Smashing Pumpkins, it means you have an unhealthy obsession with them.
Pumpkins can be cooked in a variety of ways. In the United States, pumpkin pie is a staple at Thanksgiving tables. Since other cultures don't celebrate the day when the Pilgrims and their Indian hosts feasted together, they find other ways to cook a pumpkin. In the Middle East and Thailand the pumpkin is used for sweet dishes. In Japan it is used for savory dishes. In China, pumpkin leaves are cooked as a vegetable and in Italy the pumpkin is used as stuffing for ravioli. All over the world children love to roast the seeds as a snack. My lawyer tells me that I should warn everyone that children should only roast seeds under the supervision of an adult. He says he's trying to keep me from getting sued for what I say in this column. If you ask me he hasn't done a very good job.
No discussion of pumpkins would be complete without a discourse of their place in Halloween. Using pumpkins as lanterns came from an ancient Celtic custom and made its way to America through European immigrants. The carvings on jack-o'-lanterns represented the faces of lost souls and were placed on doorsteps to ward off evil spirits. This may have kept evil spirits away, but when I grew up the jack-o'-lanterns did little to ward off twelve year boys who knew that the only good jack-o'-lantern was a smashed jack-o'-lantern in the middle of the street.
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.
Uncle Flatty here on Saturday
Uncle Flatty is the name of a band, not a relative of mine. I really like their music. If we didn't, we wouldn't have them here. So since we're having them here, we obviously like them and so will you if you stop by the market.
Melissa Punzalan has been here off and on all season with her jewelry. She's on this Saturday.
Pam Fuller is here with her wind chimes. Last week Pam gave me a nice jar of apple sauce. Maybe this week she'll bake me a pumpkin pie.
Annie Chittenden is rolling in with her knitted pieces for Kindknit Artisans. It's that time of year when you think about bundling up your little ones and Annie can help you out.
Darcy Farr of Curds & Whey has all her oils and vinegars out for the sampling. I'm going to get a pallet of them to stock up for the winter.
Kim and Laura will be showing up with all their natural beauty products. I've noticed a number of people looking a lot better because of their products.
The "puzzle man" Don Paczowski is here with his wood cut puzzles.
Farmers Markets Around The World
Translate this to sharpen your language skills and make this world a little bit smaller: The language this week is Swedish. Jag tror att jag åt något mycket likt det förra gången jag var på IKEA.
Translation last week from French: I only eat local food. That's why I've traveled 3,000 miles to your market.
See you in the field!